5. Nurse practitioners
> Projected gain 2014-2024: 35.2%
> 2014 jobs: 126,900
> 2024 jobs: 171,700
> Median annual wage: $98,190
Nurse practitioners typically have an area of expertise such as geriatric, pediatric, or psychiatric medical care. They typically work with patients to determine how best to improve their health. Depending on where in the country they practice, they can also prescribe medication and order laboratory tests. Due largely to the Affordable Care Act and the resulting increase in health insurance coverage, the number of nurse practitioners is projected to increase by 35.2% between 2014 and 2024.
4. Home health aides
> Projected gain 2014-2024: 38.1%
> 2014 jobs: 913,500
> 2024 jobs: 1,261,900
> Median annual wage: $21,920
Just as the continued aging of the baby boom generation will lead to an increase in the number of personal care aides in the coming years, it will also contribute to a considerable increase in demand for home health aides. Home health aides are responsible for helping their clients, who are typically disabled and chronically ill, with daily living. For many elderly and disabled individuals, home health aides can be a less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. By 2024, the BLS projects there will be 1.26 million home health aides, a 38.1% increase from 10 years prior.
3. Physical therapist assistants and aides
> Projected gain 2014-2024: 39.9%
> 2014 jobs: 128,700
> 2024 jobs: 180,200
> Median annual wage: $42,980
Physical therapist assistants, or PTAs, take direction from physical therapists to help patients recover from injuries and gain or regain mobility. The medical needs of the aging baby boom generation will likely necessitate a sharp increase in the number of PTAs in the coming years. Experts anticipate the generation will remain active into old age, which will inevitably lead to injuries that require rehabilitation. Additionally, advancing medical technology will help trauma victims and newborns with birth defects survive, further necessitating the need for more PTAs.
2. Occupational therapy assistants and aides
> Projected gain 2014-2024: 40.1%
> 2014 jobs: 41,900
> 2024 jobs: 58,700
> Median annual wage: $54,520
Occupational therapy assistants help patients, from children with developmental disabilities to the disabled elderly, perform day to day tasks. Many of the factors affecting the employment growth projections across the health care industry are also spurring growth projections for occupational therapy assistants and aides. The number of occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow by more than 40% in the coming decade, more than nearly any occupation.
1. Wind turbine service technicians
> Projected gain 2014-2024: 108.0%
> 2014 jobs: 4,400
> 2024 jobs: 9,200
> Median annual wage: $51,050
Wind turbine service technicians are by far the fastest growing occupation in the United States. The number of technicians, known as windtechs, is projected to more than double between 2014 and 2024. Advances in wind turbine technology, in conjunction with an effort to increase the use of renewable energy, are largely behind the industry employment boom.
Opportunities for windtechs will not be spread evenly throughout the country. Wind farms are far more common in the Great Plains and the Midwest than they are in other regions. Windtechs can also find jobs in offshore projects as winds are most consistent offshore.